GULFPORT — City of Gulfport residents may pay 5 percent more in water bills to pay for infrastructure improvements.
Yesterday, the city council passed a $30 million bond with $20 million of it going into water, sewer and drainage improvements.
“We have a lot of infrastructure in the ground that’s 50-years-old and older. We’ve had flooding in the city in recent years. All of that will come up out of the ground. New infrastructure will go in and hopefully eliminate much of the flooding we’ve had in our city,” said city administration John Kelly.
Mayor Billy Hewes said the rate hike proposal will be on the agenda for the council’s Dec. 2 meeting.
The administration has indicated a rate hike must be in place before the money is borrowed. A 5 percent increase would cover an annual bond payment of $1.6 million.
City leaders said infrastructure work should begin in the next three to four months and they believe residents will see the benefits are worth paying for in their water sewer bills.
“It will be a slight increase in water rate, but the flip side of that is, we hope it will eliminate many of the problems in communities that have never flooded before. All of a sudden they’re flooding. So we think this is the best way to go,” Kelly said.
The remaining $10 million of the bond issue would go to expanding the Sportsplex, a city-owned complex that hosts tournaments and draws visitors to Gulfport. Hewes said some of the money also could go for a soccer complex. Soccer fields at the Sportsplex might be moved to make more room for baseball.
Hewes said the city hopes to further capitalize on the sports-tourism business.
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